This week, I was reminded of a statement I used to say to my daughter when she was a little girl, “You made a mistaaaake!” Now before you think this former early childhood teacher had no business working with little kids, let me explain.
Both my ex-husband and I decided that as we parented our child, we would teach her the value of making mistakes, learning how to accept them with grace and dignity rather than disappointment and shame. We wanted our child to grow up knowing that she could make a mistake, learn from it, remedy it then move on, and so at an early age, she often heard us telling each other,her, and ourselves, “You made a mistaaake!” We modeled it, we laughed about it, and we used it as a teachable moment. Even at 3-years-old, my daughter called me out one day in the line of the grocery store, and with all her exuberance shouted, “Mommy made a MISTAAAAAKKKEEEE!!!” as if she’d been waiting to proclaim that for a lifetime.
The gift of being able to accept and acknowledge your mistakes is that you quit carrying the burden. Aaahh–you can take a deep breath, you don’t have to hide behind a facade of perfection, and for goodness sakes, who can fault anyone for being human? I mean, really.
To carry on this theme, I’m reposting this one today. It’s one of my personal faves. ~cameron
You’re taught at an early age, especially if you’re being raised by high-achieving perfectionist parents… you get on the tightrope and you hold your breath. I was in my mid-thirties when I discovered that if you fall off the tightrope, it’s about a foot and a half to the ground. And that there’s always someone around to help you get up and dust off your butt and help you get started again.
Have you ever watched squirrels leap through the trees? I don’t mean carefully climb a trunk and inch down a branch–I mean throw all caution to the wind, let go of one limb and jump courageously onto the next. It can be quite spellbinding.
When I was in college, a friend shared with me, “You know, when we were kids, teachers would always ask, ‘If you could be any animal, what would you choose?’ Everyone always chose a bird because birds can fly and go anywhere. I always chose a squirrel because how many animals do you know that can free fall from tree to tree and still remain standing?” In the midst of my young adult insecurity, I remember pondering on that one, thinking how amazing it must feel to be that brave.
As an adult, however, I realized that the balancing act squirrels have mastered isn’t really bravery. No, uh-huh. It’s instinct, second nature, for them to do what they do.
Falling is the part that requires courage.
In an effort to teach us to be independent, society pushes us out on that tightrope at an early age, encouraging us to tiptoe forward–sometimes, before we’re even ready. So we teeter and totter as folks stand on the edge cheering us on or waiting with bated breath.
But we are not squirrels, and inevitably, we fall off the wire. Like Anne Lamott, it’s then we realize that the tightrope is only a few inches off the ground, but the embarrassment, shame or anxiety we feel about not being perfect or independent often paralyzes us as if we’ve fallen thousands of feet.
Listen up, here’s where the courage part comes in–it is at this point that you choose how your journey will continue.
Yes, it would be easy to sit there on the ground for a minute, red-faced and stunned, then casually shrug it off and hop back on the wire.
But I have learned this–accepting your mistakes, appreciating your humanness, and asking for help does an amazing thing. It frees you from the tightrope. Yes, it really does because at the point that you open your heart and spirit to let people or your Maker help you. You are not out there journeying alone. You have someone holding you up, balancing you to keep you from falling, or catching you when you do.
The next time you see a squirrel–take time to observe with awe. It is pretty amazing to witness such skill. Remember though, even that animal doesn’t go it alone. It takes the arms of a tree to catch that squirrel.